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Babai ben Luţf


BABAI BEN LUŢF (17th century), historian of Kashan who left the first and only written history of his time, covering a period from about 1613 until the beginning of the year 1662. His history, which contains about 5,300 lines of poetry in Judeo-Persian (Persian language written in Hebrew script), is called Ketāb-e Anusi. The work still remains in manuscript form, of which six copies are known to us in the major libraries of the U.S., Europe, and Israel. The author depicts the savage persecution of the Jews all over Iran by the two Safavid kings, *Abbas i (1588–29) and *Abbas ii (1642–66). He mentions 19 cities by name whose Jewish population were killed, tortured, and forced to embrace Islam. The veracity of Babai's account is supported by the Iranian historians of the period, by the travelogue of Pietro della Valle, and by Arakel, the Armenian priest of Tabriz. The author speaks favorably of two Shiʿite priests with a strong Sufi orientation who interceded on behalf of the Jews: Shaikh Bahā al-Dīn Ameli (d. 1621), and Mollā Moḥsen Feiz of Kashan (d. 1680). Babai also mentions with respect Shah Safi (1629–42) who reigned after Abbas i. Ketāb-e Anusi is a valuable historical document also containing important information regarding Jewish demography and communal organization as well as historical events concerning Iran. We also know of a short Judeo-Persian poem, Monājāt-Nāmeh, composed by Babai ben Luţf in praise of the prophet Elijah.


A. Netzer, "Redifot u-Shmadot be-Toledot Yehudei Iran be-Me'ah ha-17," in: Peʿamim 6 (1980), 32–56; V.B. Moreen,Iranian Jewry's Hour of Peril and Heroism (1987); H. Levy, Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran (1999), 302ff.

[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]

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